A Giant Bamboo Rocket Soars to Incredible Heights During a Thai Festival

The pyrotechnics are a way for citizens to celebrate the gods of agriculture.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Have you heard of the Rocket Festival? It is a merit-making ceremony that takes place throughout much of Northeastern Thailand and Laos near the beginning of the wet season. People celebrate this yearly event by performing music and dance routines during the first day, unleashing processions of floats during the second day, and firing competitive homemade rockets during the third day.

Rocket festivals are meant to appeal to Phaya Thaen, the god of rain, and Phra Mae Phosop, the goddess of rice. Some Thai people believe that the lavish and exuberant pyrotechnics on display at the festival can guarantee a prosperous and fruitful upcoming year.

The pyrotechnics often include rockets that are made of bamboo. But don't let this fool you. That does not mean they cannot reach incredible heights. In this video embedded in this article, we can see one such bamboo rocket taking off and heading for the skies as well as some dance performers. 

As the rockets take off they leave behind a mesmerizing double helix trail. How are these bamboo rockets created? They consist of a central rod full of solid fuel and nozzles. They are engineered to spin into the sky until they stop and head back crashing to Earth on a parachute or simply explode.

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If you want to catch such a festival and view the amazing rocket activities, you may want to head to a village in Thailand as they are more likely to still occur there. Anthropology Professor Charles F. Keyes has noted that the "Bun Bang Fai or fire rocket festival of Laos are far more elaborate in the villages than in the cities."

For a history of fireworks from ancient China to today, you can read this article here. For an understanding of the science and engineering involved in fireworks, you can read this article here. 

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